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How does Robert Louis Stevenson create the notion of good and evil in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

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Introduction

Coursework: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Essay Henry Agyei 10 Lowry How does Robert Louis Stevenson create the notion of good and evil in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? The book entitled 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' was published in 1886. Although in the book Stevenson does not ever state the exact year, it was at the time recognized immediately as a grand work. The main theme running throughout the book is about the duality of human beings and the battle in all humans between good and evil. This book is very allegorical because the characters and events are representing other things and symbolically expressing a deeper spiritual and moral meaning. For humans the battle between the potential for extreme good and extreme evil is in the mind, but Jekyll's experiment has given one man a split personality of the two extremes in the physical realm. The book also involves a theme of hypocrisy, as shown by Jekyll and Hyde of Victorian society. On one hand it was pleasant society, respectable, conventional, deeply religious, and polite. On the other was a much more bohemian England, symbolized by dishonesty and darkness. The combination of the two aspects in contrast to each other made an impression on Stevenson. This was a world of appearance not truth with Victorian oppression, fighting against basic human nature. Throughout the story is an omniscient narrator who tells the story from full view of different people with different perspectives (e.g. the view of the maid lets us into her feelings and attitudes towards Hyde). The author could have chosen another route by possibly telling the story as a confession from Jekyll's point of view. ...read more.

Middle

The theme of duality is also marked by the symbolic nature of the name, Hyde. Hyde comes from the more familiar word hide, and stands for the hidden aspects of Jekyll as shown by Mr. Hyde. In Chapter 2, Mr. Utterson says that "If he shall be Mr. Hyde . . . I shall be Mr Seek" this shows that the author is using a play on words to enhance the intrigue. The soundscape of the two chapters: Church bells chiming, a child screaming, footsteps etc. They all contribute to the sensory experience that goes along with the reading of the text and disquiets the reader. In Chapter 3 Jekyll is described as a "smooth-faced man of fifty with something of a stylish cast" and 'but every mark of capacity and kindness' shows that Jekyll's hypocritical character has left its mark on his features. The effect of this description shows the duality of Jekyll's nature. Sir Danvers Carew was a respected member of London society. He is seen as part of the good in the world who is 'a beautiful gentleman with white hair'. In the forefront of this scene is the maid's description of a horrific murder, but in the background is the description of the setting: the soft, clear night, the romantic nature of the maid, the full moon, and the sweetness of the old man. The scene together with the brutal events is another example of Stevenson's use of duality and the theme of good versus evil. Once again, the maids description of Hyde, stresses the basic knowledge that he is a bad person and that all of society knows of someone's wickedness from only their looks, 'particularly small and particularly wicked looking.' ...read more.

Conclusion

When he does not appear you feel even more curious of what he looks like. When the story says" there was a shudder in his blood" this shows suspense because you want to know what is so disturbing. Jekyll didn't want to face his dark side and control it, he takes the easy way out but splitting his soul and having two separate live both the extreme opposite of the other. Stevenson is trying to show the reader that this is the wrong way to do things because Jekyll dies and commits murder as well. Stevenson is telling us that we have to live with our dark side, restrain it and control it so we can live a civil and peaceful life. Jekyll doesn't want to do this so he releases his dark side and he cannot control the power of it and ends up dying because of it. This is a warning from Stevenson to the reader not to take the easy way out. It also proves that Stevenson wants the reader to judge Jekyll harshly as he was weak and took the "cowards" path out, which lead to his death. Although Jekyll seems to have no control over Hyde, once he has transformed, it is Jekyll's original attitude towards evil in the first place, which brings him trouble. He sees the ability to lose moral control and be free from the ties of society as a kind of liberation, which is why the transformation into Mr Hyde is so appealing to him. It is not that he has no regard to society as a whole, or he wouldn't need to turn into Hyde, but that he cannot tolerate that certain behaviour is prohibited. By becoming Hyde, Jekyll can follow his wildest imaginations without worrying about the consequences. ...read more.

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